How Open Are We Willing to Be?

One of the harder things for us to work through in the adoption process was our openness preferences. What does that mean? It means the type of birth scenario we were open to stepping into…involving everything from expectant parent’s IQ, mental health history, and potential drug and alcohol use during pregnancy, to the child’s medical conditions (surgically correctable or not) and diseases (STDs/HIV positive), to different ethnicities, to how much contact we were willing to have with the birth parents as the child grows. Answering these hard questions required our being clear on what our priorities were in adopting, what our strengths and weaknesses were as a family, and our over all mission as a family.

Once we had that grid to work through, it made it a little easier to respond to the tough questions. Bethany also helped us work through some of the questions in the different trainings we attended. As pertains to the amount of contact we were willing to have with birth parents following the adoption, we divided up into 4 different groups based on what we preferred : open adoption (face to face contact between birth parents and child with adoptive parents present), semi-open adoption (sending email updates, texting pictures, etc.), closed adoption (no contact with birth family – rarely happens in adoptions now), kinship adoption (a family member of the birth family adopts child). We listed the pros and cons of our preference as adoptive parents. Then they had us divide up into one of the four groups based on what we think the expectant parents/birth parents would prefer and list the pros and cons from their perspective. Then, they asked us to divide into one of the four groups based on what we thought the adoptee would prefer and list the pros and cons from their view. I cannot say enough about how helpful this exercise was to opening my eyes and seeing things from the perspectives of all the different parties involved in adoption.

I read an article recently positing that adoptive parents are prone to view the adopting experience solely from their perspective asking questions like, can we do this? Can we afford this? Can we love enough? And these questions are a good starting place. But really adoptive parents need to be challenged to think outside of themselves. They aren’t the end in the adoption. A well-adjusted grown adopted child is the end they need to keep in mind. This goal adds to the questions that should be asked. What can we do to help our child process his/her difficult family history? What can we do to help our child deal with his/her grief and anger over lost culture and birth parent attention? What can we do to prepare our child to deal with racism?

Over the next few days I hope to deal more with those issues.


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